Lewisville High School running back Brian Colvin, who collapsed during a preseason football game, died of a heart condition, officials said Wednesday.
Colvin, 18, died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which affects the muscle of the heart, Chester County Deputy Coroner Tommy Williams said.
His death was not related to heat, steroids or any other trauma, Williams said.
"It's a disease ... in which a portion of the heart muscle is thickened," Williams said. "It wouldn't have shown on a physical. He was in excellent shape.
"It was one of those things, a sudden death."
The condition makes it more difficult for blood to leave the heart, forcing it to work harder to pump blood.
Colvin died at Chester Regional Medical Center after showing "seizure-like" symptoms and collapsing on the field during a scrimmage game against Westminster Catawba in the Chester Football Jamboree on Aug. 13.
His cause of death is listed as natural, Williams said. A toxicology report came back negative, meaning Colvin had no drugs or alcohol in his system. The autopsy was performed at Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill.
"We're sad that it happened," said Lewisville High School coach Marvin Burke. "We're sad it could happen to any player."
What happened is a genetic condition affecting one in 500 people, said Lisa Salberg, CEO and founder of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association. It's the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes, she said.
Relatives of Colvin, a three-sport athlete and standout running back for the Lions, had said the family has a history of heart trouble that might have been a factor.
His mother, Johnnie Mae Colvin, said it puts her mind at ease a little knowing how her son died.
"It was good to find out what really happened; I wanted to know," she said. "I was surprised. I never knew of that condition, that he had that kind of condition."
Knowing how her son died does make her feel a little better, Colvin said, but she's still faced with the pain of living without him.
"Every morning, I get my girls up for school; it's hard," she said. "It's not really getting easier."
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes thick, making it more difficult for blood to leave and forcing the heart to work harder.
The condition is usually inherited.
Younger people are likely to have a more severe form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. However, the condition is seen in people of all ages.
Fainting, especially during exercise
Heart failure in some patients
High blood pressure
Light-headedness, especially with or after activity or exercise
Sensation of feeling the heart beat, also known as palpitations
Shortness of breath
Some patients have no symptoms. They might not even realize they have the condition until it is found during a routine medical exam.
Medications can help the heart contract and relax correctly, reduce chest pains and relieve symptoms.
An operation called surgical myectomy removes a portion of the thickened part of the heart. Patients who have this procedure often show significant improvement.
SOURCE: National Institutes of Health
Colvin was laid to rest one week ago, the same day students returned to classes at Lewisville High and other Chester County schools.